6th & 7th January 2017
I opted for anti seasickness tablets rather than the patch for the return trip across the Drake at Jelte’s bar-side medical dispensary, and happy I did. I wasn’t sick and or overcome with tiredness and thoroughly enjoyed the crossing.
The first night was gentle,the following day saw a fair amount of staggering, we had up to about 5 metre waves, although this is apparently classed as Drake Lake! Between meals there were talks by the guides and a movie.
I thoroughly enjoyed Christophe’s talk about Amundsen and the race to the north pole. This brought back memories of my first visit to Hobart when we stayed at Hadleys Hotel and were in the Amundsen Suite. Bruce gave a hugely enthusiastic talk on seabirds and why they are so cool, he even managed to stir interest in me, who is so not into birds.
Our daily briefing was more about what was to come – paying our bar bill and disembarkation, rather than the exciting plans we’ve had on past days. I was very proud of myself today, no naps and appeared at every meal, yay.
Second night and day on the Drake was much the same, with more talks by Lousie about Shakleton and Marijke on whales and her time spent with the Australian Antarctic Division. Those of us who weren’t sick or sleeping spent most of our time in the lounge or up on the bridge deck, hopefully not annoying the Captain and crew, who were always very welcoming and happy to answer questions or just have a chat.
A surprise for all came when Andrew advised we were at the Diego Ramirez group of islands and had permission from the Argentine naval base there to sail within 3 miles. This is another rare treat, being the most southern land of South America, and was great for the bird lovers spotting albatross and petrels galore.
Returning boots and paying our bills kept us busy for a while then another treat, we headed up and around Cape Horn on the way home. Andrew told us later there’s an old mariners tradition that says sailing around Cape Horn entitles you to wear a gold coin earring, not sure if this extends to motorized ships!
Our last briefing that night was wonderful, there was a fantastic 10 minute slide presentation, farewell drink and toast by our Captain who also told us he hadn’t been able to get that close to Diego Ramirez for about 5 years. We’re so fortunate to have had such good weather and a company who are happy to go the extra mile.
More food!! Our last dinner was awesome, as always and afterwards the other staff were paraded to our joy. The chefs, cooks, baker and stewards were grinning from ear to ear at our applause. It’s such a happy ship, I’ve had the time of my life.
After dinner we congregated in the lounge for a night of story-telling, reliving the voyage and generally lots of laughs. Next morning after breakfast it was last minute packing and then all of a sudden Andrew announced the Argentine authorities had cleared us to disembark and it was all over bar the goodbyes! I have a day in Ushuaia waiting for my flight to Buenos Aires where I have another few days before heading home, bring it on!
I can truly say I’ve had the most wonderful 12 days on this voyage. Antarctica and everything about it was mind-blowingly beautiful – I certainly don’t have the words to describe it and my photos don’t do it anywhere near enough justice. The ship crew and expedition staff were the absolute best and I found heaps of fellow passengers who I just fitted with, probably no surprise when you consider this is not your everyday trip.
I can’t recommend Oceanwide Expeditions highly enough and I just loved the mv Plancius! I’d better add here that I’m in no way being or have been reimbursed for these posts, sadly ; my praise is purely my unbiased opinion.